VOICES: Big Rapids native combines love of running, Disney to write book

This story is part of Voices of our community, which is designed to tell you something new about your neighbors. Participants are chosen at random for the interviews, in which we strive to share a portion of their lives with you, the reader.

 

FINISH LINE: Megan Biller shows off the medals she’s received from runDisney races. Biller started long-distance training about two years ago and since has run numerous half-marathons and 5K races, with plans to run her first full marathon in January. (Pioneer photo)

BIG RAPIDS – The prospect of running a half marathon isn’t very enticing to most people, but add an appearance by Mickey Mouse and confetti at the finish line and suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad.

Lifelong Big Rapids resident Megan Biller, 29, recently co-authored “Magical Miles: The Runner’s Guide to Walt Disney World,” which was published Nov. 26. The runner’s guide offers tips on incorporating a runDisney race into a family vacation, information on other nearby attractions and training resources. Seven annual weekend-long runDisney events attract more than 200,000 participants each year. Each race has a different theme.

Biller, a travel specialist for Glass Slipper Concierge, a nationwide travel service focused on planning Disney trips, teamed up with another Glass Slipper employee Krista Albrecht to write the book, which is on sale at Amazon.com for $15.99.

Biller and Albrecht, who both have competed in runDishey events, began working on the project in March. While they communicated on a regular basis while putting the book together, Biller and Albrecht, who lives in Alabama, didn’t meet in person until two weeks ago.

“There’s a lot that goes into a book we didn’t realize,” Biller said. “Meeting Krista was my favorite part of the whole thing. I made a great friend.”

The guide merges Biller’s experience as a runner, as a travel specialist and as a Disney enthusiast.

GOING THE DISTANCE: Megan Biller competes in a runDisney race. She appreciates that Disney events celebrate every runner and enjoys the entertainment during runDisney races. (Courtesy photo)

“My parents brought me there when I was really little, and I just fell in love with it,” said Biller, who graduated from Big Rapids High School. “My grandparents went to Florida in the winter, so we’d go visit them and that usually meant a trip to Disney as well.”

Biller’s first time at Disney was as an unborn child during her mother’s pregnancy. She, her parents and younger brother went many times in her childhood until Biller reached fifth grade.

“My mom and I just went and we were laughing about going on the teacup ride,” Biller said reminiscing about her favorite part of Disney. “My dad would go on that with me and my brother. He would spin it so fast we couldn’t hold our heads up, and we were just laughing so hard.”

Family trips to Disney recommenced for spring break trips in high school. Biller also spent her honeymoon there and has made several trips in the past six years since she married her husband, Brent.

While Brent does not run with Megan, he’s her biggest fan and has traveled with her to every race. Biller started a more intensive training regimen about two years ago. In the past year, she has competed in three runDisney half marathons, the 25K 5/3 Riverbank Run in Grand Rapids, other half marathons and numerous 5K races. She’s preparing for her first runDisney marathon in January.

“Writing a book and training for a full marathon probably wasn’t the smartest thing, but it’s Disney so it will be fun,” Biller said with a laugh. “You’re never bored (during a runDisney) race. There are characters and bands. They celebrate every runner. Of course the first-place runner gets the confetti and runs through the ribbon, but the characters are there at the end, they’re announcing your name as you cross the finish line and the last person also gets the confetti.”

DISNEY MAGIC: As a child, Megan Biller took many trips to Disney. She also spent her honeymoon there and now works as a travel specialist for Glass Slipper Concierge, a travel service that specializes in planning Disney trips. (Courtesy photo)

Biller helps her family run the John Deere dealership in Big Rapids. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Ferris State University and a master’s from Central Michigan University. She taught at the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District’s Math/Science/Technology Center before it closed.

The Pioneer chatted with Biller about what motivates her running, her family values and how it feels to be an author.

PIONEER: What was your reaction when you first saw a copy of the book?

BILLER: The first thing I did was take a picture and text it to Krista because she hadn’t seen it yet. Then the jump-around-and-get-excited. I texted (a picture of it) to my parents and Brent’s parents. It’s surreal to see your name as an author. I never in a million years would have imagined that.

Tell me about your favorite running moment.

BILLER: I have a few. The (Disney half marathon) Wine & Dine was my favorite this year. It was a night race, which was new to me. I was worried all day. … So I just decided to have fun with it and I stopped and took pictures along the way. It was really neat. We got to run through three parks, which was rare.

In July, I got to pace my cousin through her first half marathon. That’s special in its own way. It was far from my personal best, but I didn’t care because I was having fun with her.

How did you get into running?

BILLER: I was teaching and was very stressed out. I could never push past four miles. I never thought I was a runner; I hated running. … But I used it as a stress reliever. I signed up for the 10K 5/3 Riverbank Run two years ago and never looked back. I caught that runners high. I went from a 10K to now I’m training for a full marathon.

What is it about running that got you hooked?

BILLER: It’s something I can do anywhere. I do it at my own pace. … Training for events really keeps me going. It’s my own time. It’s something I didn’t think I could do. When you tell people you’re training for a full marathon or running your seventh half marathon, people get inspired too.

Why did you want to go into teaching initially, and why did you decide to step away?

BILLER: I wanted to be a teacher since I was 4. I’ve always been very math- and science-oriented. I enjoyed teaching classmates and just kind of had a heart for it. Basically, the program went under and it was just time (to take a break from teaching). My goal had always been to teach at the collegiate level, so maybe down the road I’ll do that.

RUNNER’S GUIDE: Lifelong Big Rapids resident Megan Biller holds up a copy of her book, “Magical Miles,” which was published on Nov. 26. The book combines Biller’s love for Disney, running and travel. (Pioneer photo/Lauren Fitch)

How did you meet Brent?

BILLER: When I was going to Ferris, we were part of the same campus ministry. Come to find out, our grandparents knew each other. So when we started dating, our grandparents were scheming that we were going to get married.

What’s your greatest accomplishment?

BILLER: Getting my master’s was pretty huge for me, especially because I was working in the midst of it. Publishing a book is huge too. My main accomplishment is just continuing the legacy that’s been passed down to me from my parents and grandparents – continuing to be a person of faith and keep up the hard work and integrity.

Where would you take someone who’s new to Big Rapids?

BILLER: My favorite things are going out and enjoying the country and the scenery. My grandpa had a farm and we’d go snowmobiling and sledding there every winter. I like seeing the colors in the fall and just enjoying the surroundings more than the city. I love it.

What would be a perfect day for you?

BILLER: Going for a run in the morning, coming home, relaxing, watching a movie with my husband. Maybe go shopping. More than anything, I just like enjoying the moment and spending time with my family.

Is there a moment that changed your perspective on life?

BILLER: Different things throughout my life have happened that have directed my course. From high school and college, different friends have been God’s way of saying go on this course. … Other things happen where you gain perspective. My grandfather passed away in May. He was such a man of integrity that it just made me refocus on family and the things he said to focus on. The book came together about the same time. It was good.

What’s your main comfort food?

BILLER: Pizza and ice cream. I can only get pizza from The Gate and Vivo’s because I’m (gluten-intolerant). And mint chocolate chip ice cream.

 Megan’s book

“Magical Miles: The Runner’s Guide to Walt Disney World,” by Big Rapids resident Megan Biller and Krista Albrecht, was published on Nov. 26. The book offers tips on planning runDisney events into a family vacation, complete with information on restaurants in the area, other attractions and resources for training. The runner’s guide is available for $15.99 at www.runnersguidetowdw.com.

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